Thursday, 17 October 2019

The Secret to Eternal Happiness Comes Down to This One Thing

Do you remember Po, the cuddly panda from the movie Kung Fu Panda?

Let's recap a bit about the movie.

In the movie, Po, a bumbling panda is chosen as the dragon warrior to fight an evil warrior, Tai Lung. His guru, Master Oogway trains him and even after being defeated by Tai Lung, Master Oogway gives Po the dragon scroll - which is sacred and full of wisdom. Upon receiving the scroll, Po finds out that its reflective surface has nothing on it. Po is disappointed that the scroll did not have the knowledge to make him a great warrior. He goes to his adoptive father and to console his son, he reveals to PO the secret ingredient for his noodle soup.

He says, " The secret ingredient is nothing". He adds, " To make something special you have to believe it is special".

Such simple lines, but one can have profound learning from it.

Aren't we all looking for that special ingredient to make us happy? You won't be reading this article if you are not in search of happiness.

On the internet, you will find loads of articles and blog posts complete with a variety of lists telling you the path to happiness. Entire websites run on telling you how you can be happy. If only we could remember all the points they listed out when we are unhappy so that we could always be happy.

Happiness cannot be packaged or found in to-do lists.

Let's accept it.

Life is challenging and we are all navigating the ups and the downs the best we can and trying to hold onto the lasting experience of happiness.

We believe that if we found the right person to fall in love, we would be always happy. We think that buying an expensive car or a dress or a house will make us happy.

Wait a minute.

If that was true, wouldn't all successful people be happy all the time?

Can the source of happiness be anything external? But isn't happiness inside you? 

Just like pain, anger, and disappointment.

Then why do we keep searching for it in all the wrong places?

Happiness is always within you. It all depends on how you choose to look at a situation. People who are always joyful will focus on the good in any situation. They will always look at the silver lining. It is always about perception.

How do we look at a given situation? 

Focussing on what we don't have rather than what we have pulls us into a downward spiral. Negative feelings feed negative thoughts and then start the whole cycle of being unhappy.

Introspection is one of the biggest tools to understand why we feel unhappy.

Why is a certain situation making me unhappy? 

An answer to this question needs to be broken down to reach to the root cause of unhappiness. Any situation that makes us unhappy is always based on our perception and the expected outcome of a situation.

What if we step aside and become an observer, instead of being a participant?

This will help us to be rational without letting our feelings get in the way of our introspection. It will not only allow us to see things clearly but will also help us to take the next steps, to deal with the situation in a structured way. Recognizing patterns of thoughts and understanding our limiting beliefs will help us to work on them.

We all face challenges, losses, and struggles in life. In such moments, it would seem impossible to hold on to happiness. The thing we need to remember is that it is always our choice about how we want to feel about a situation.

Self-love is the key to happiness. We need to be gentle with ourselves. Living in the now - the present, and forgoing past mistakes and the fear of the future. It is about appreciating what we already have. It is about shifting our perception and learning to focus on the abundance we have in our lives and being thankful for it.

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Stop treating job seekers like beggars

Let me tell you companies don't know s*** about hiring. They don't know how to treat job seekers as human beings, let alone with respect. The entire process is so screwed up and skewed in favor of companies that a job seeker has no bargaining position. It is time that companies stopped treating job seekers like beggars.

Right from applying for a job, filling out mind-numbing applications on their websites (which can never represent who you truly are), to giving out personal information, past earnings, and gaps in jobs. Everything is designed to keep control in the hands of a company.

So here are some real situations I faced in the recent past when trying to look for a job.

All these interviews are at so-called "professional companies" and have pretty websites and great LinkedIn pages describing their successes and how good they are at helping their customers.
Interview 1
I get called for an interview with a leading IT company. I used my networking skills and asked a good friend to recommend my name. I was called for an interview after they had seen my resume. I reached the interview venue 20 minutes before the designated time. I get a call on my cellphone from the HR team 5 minutes before the scheduled time that since the Marketing Head (Person who was to interview me) was stuck in a meeting and was not able to reach the venue in time so could I come to their other office.
I agreed (I needed a job) and since their other office was in the vicinity (quite far to be able to walk and not that far to hire a cab). I ran/walked from one venue to another. After a wait of about 20 minutes, I was ushered in and still had to wait for the interviewer to grace hah! the interview. She walks in with a laptop and tells me that she is communicating with a customer.
This was odd. Why call me if you had other pressing matters?
After about 15-20 minutes of answering questions (where the interviewer was focussed on the laptop more than me), I was told that they will let me know. In two weeks' time, I get a rejection call from HR citing the reason I was not a good fit for the job.
Interview 2
I apply for a job on LinkedIn with an MNC. I get a message from their HR head on LinkedIn saying they loved my profile and would love to schedule a call. I keep aside other stuff and wait for them during the scheduled time, but to date, I have received no call from them. I write back to the HR head asking her for an update and have received no reply.
Interview 3
I apply for another job in marketing with a company, in the pets food domain. I get a call from HR a month after I had applied. They wanted to do an initial interview. I am ok with that and we continue the conversation. Midway, the call gets disconnected. I wait for them to ring me back and I never receive a callback nor a message from them.
Interview 4
I had applied for a senior position in another software company. I am called for the first screening at their office. The HR was not available so they had asked a techie to do the screening who asks me questions that are designed for an entry-level position. I clear the first screening and move on to the second round.
The second round is done by another techie who has a bit of understanding of what the job entails. After the second round, they asked to check the result on their website. A few days later, I find out that the position has been kept on hold.
I fail to understand why companies want job seekers to login to their website to know the result when a simple call can suffice. Is it too hard to make an effort to contact people who want to work for you?
Do you expect your customers to do the same?
The way you treat prospective employees goes on to show what values your company holds. Job seekers need to stand up to this bullying by writing honest reviews on job sites.In the age of the internet, companies need to be careful about how they treat job seekers. Bad reviews can turn away really good candidates from applying for jobs.I plan to post reviews on each of these companies on job sites and the pathetic way they have treated me.
Liz Ryan has articulated very well in this post about how badly companies treat job seekers.
Have you had any similar experiences?  Do tell. I am all ears.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

40 Content Ideas for anyone who wants to post on social media

"I want to write, but I don't know what I should write about"

"I don't know from where you get the ideas to write about, I am not that creative"

"Writing is hard, I don't know where to start"

These are some of the typical statements I get to hear from people who don't know what content to put up on social media.

When I had started my writing journey, I was writing stories about my everyday experiences. It took me a while to get confident about my writing. Some days, it did get difficult to write but I did not give up. Even now, I do have the so-called "writer's block" but I don't give up and keep thinking about content ideas.

Why it is important to write your ideas and share with the world?

If people stopped posting content that they truly believe in, then here's what's going to happen
  • We will lose out on a lot of great content such as knowledge and narratives that can make a difference.
  • The world will miss out on all the revolutionary product ideas from those millions of people who are not sharing their content or publishing on social media.
I believe it is the fear of getting judged that stops most of them from sharing content.

Why must you share your own content?

  1. It is fulfilling to put forward your ideas to the world
  2. It's a great way to connect to like-minded people
  3. You become better at communicating your thoughts and ideas to others
  4. It is great fun
  5. From a professional point of view, it will make you a subject matter expert and people will reach out to you for advice, solutions, jobs, etc.

Before you start publishing content, you might need to keep some things in mind:

Which social media do you plan to post on?
Who is your target audience

Here's the list of 40 content ideas you can use to post on social media. You can write on these topics:

  1. Things that make you happy
  2. Things that make you sad
  3. What inspires you
  4. About a person that inspires you
  5. A friend and how you became friends with that person
  6. A tough situation you faced and what you learned from it
  7. Recommend a product and what about that product you found was good
  8. About a service you used and what you liked about it
  9. Ask a question about something you don't know about
  10. Write a story
  11. Review a book
  12. Review a movie
  13. A trip you took
  14. A restaurant review
  15. Share one of your childhood memories
  16. Talk about what you do and where you work
  17. What do you like about the place you work
  18. A 'How-to' post
  19. Your reading list
  20. A customer testimonial
  21. An interesting article/blog post you read recently and your thoughts on it
  22. A recipe and share the step by step process on how to make a dish
  23. A fiction piece
  24. A funny incident that happened with you
  25. Your reflections about pain, fear, insecurities
  26. About common mistakes, people make when using your product
  27. A funny meme/inspirational poster
  28. The best video you saw recently and share about why you think it was the best
  29. A resource list
  30. A list of best free tools
  31. A list of podcasts on a specific topic
  32. A list of music you love
  33. A list of free ebooks with the links where you can download them
  34. A list of free online courses on the topic of your relevance
  35. Interview an expert
  36. A list of important events/conferences/ training seminars on a relevant topic
  37. If you gave a job interview, write your experience
  38. If you interviewed someone for a job, what was it that helped you make a decision
  39. A reflective post on how you were and how you have changed
  40. How do you celebrate life?

Writing is just like any other art form. All you need to do is practice and practice some more. Don't be afraid to post. Let your imagination soar and very soon you will have people engaging with you and your ideas.

What do you think of the list? Did you find it helpful?

Would love to know your thoughts.

P.S.: Part 2 of this post coming up soon :)

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Midlife Crisis

I heard this word midlife crisis in my early thirties and thought of it with just mild interest. It sounded more like a phase where people turned a bit nutty. Rumour had it that it affected men more than women and made them leave families and chase women younger than them.

I was flummoxed by it in the beginning but later forgot about it till the time it hit me squarely in my face. The unraveling of my life was not quick nor painstakingly slow. It was at a medium pace in the beginning and then the pace took my breath away. I had officially become a victim of the midlife crisis.

I saw friends around me disgruntled by the way their life had turned out. It was as if suddenly everyone around me was just unhappy, crabby and feeling bitter.

My own midlife crisis was like peeling away old skin and donning a garb that was so much more comfortable. This process of catharsis was none too easy and involved embracing thoughts and processes that I would have never dreamt of in my twenties and my thirties.

After trying to meet expectations, fulfilling other people's wishes and burying hard truths in favor of being agreeable, I was faced with an existential crisis. I was fighting hard to keep the status quo of trying to be perfect. The walls that I had built around me so that no one could peek in and find out how messy and wild my heart was, were threatening to fall down.

The days when you are so angry or the day your heart gets broken into a million pieces are all tucked away safely behind facades we create. The armor of cynicism and the coping mechanisms that we create to fool others no longer make sense. The armor starts to crumble nudging you towards opening your eyes and dropping the sham.

My midlife crisis shook me up from a deep slumber and kicked my butt really hard. It wanted me to be my authentic self so that I reach embrace my potential. It wanted me to shed unwanted baggage.

People face a mid-life crisis in different ways. Some sail through it, embracing it with just a bit of flutter in their sails while others like me wander into the stormy seas with sails torn to shreds.

I was slammed pretty hard by it. All the things I thought were important to be happy and feel safe went out of the window. Life shook me by the scruff of my neck and threw me into a swirling pit of anxiety and self-doubt. I had an identity crisis. My belief system was shaken up and I no longer could rely on my instincts as I had in my twenties and thirties. This unknown territory was strange and scary but it had a promise.

Slowly but steadily as this unknown territory started becoming familiar, I stopped pretending to like everything and everyone. I reached inside and brought back the quirky side I had as a child. I started decluttering my life with ferocity. I no longer was interested in maintaining relationships that added no value to my life. I stopped reading books midway just because they did not resonate with me. I drifted off in movies that were popular but did not move me an inch. I stopped trying hard to make a point for the sake of it. I let go of people, I let go of social commitments, I only did what I wished to do and did not force myself to get burdened by unnecessary things that sucked the joy out of life. The best part was that I was able to draw boundaries and keep people from crossing those boundaries. The things that felt super hard felt easier.

I have embraced my midlife crisis like a long lost friend. Though it upturned my life in the beginning, today, it is a familiar face. It is still making me learn new things, but I now welcome it as a gateway to new adventures.

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